We live in a sacramental universe, a universe that is an expression of the divine, an outward and physical sign of an inward and spiritual grace. The inward and spiritual grace at the heart of creation is revealed by its outward and physical manifestations. The ongoing, evolving creation reveals God as its Source. God’s beauty and love, power and energy are mediated through the natural world.
This understanding is missed by those whose worldview is shaped by the commercial media. Today’s dominant culture knows nothing of the sacramental value of life or the intrinsic value of all parts of creation. Its view is purely utilitarian, based on turning plants, animals, land, and even water into commodities so that they can be bought and sold, reducing their value to the economic value of the bottom line. This profane ideology creates a framework that allows creation to be exploited for the sake of human beings and diminishes hope for the future.
Despite our incredible cultural and technological accomplishments, we humans are still created beings, dependent on the One who brought the universe into being, and interdependent with the rest of creation: plants and trees, mountains and rivers, stars and swirling galaxies. What we do affects the whole web of life, and the condition of the whole affects us. Poisons released into the air and waters come to lodge in our tissues, as well as in the tissues of the other creatures with whom we share the earth. The loss of other species depletes the biological diversity from which medicines and food sources for human beings are developed, while also diminishing the whole. Climate change brings floods and super-hurricanes, changes disease patterns, destroys ecosystems, and threatens to submerge whole islands, including populated ones.
Amid these grave challenges, faith communities have a profound opportunity and responsibility to lend aid and to point in the direction of hope. We hope that our work will help inspire others to join in helping to make possible the regeneration of God’s creation, for the sake of God’s beloved people, for the sake of the whole, for the sake of future generations, for the sake of our souls.
For more, read the Reverend Sharon Delgado’s blog posts on Caring for Creation, order her book Love in a Time of Climate Change, or contact her for online workshops, classes, book studies, and presentations on climate change and climate justice for faith and secular communities.
See also the Reverend Don Baldwin, board member of Earth Justice Ministries, who has inspired audiences and churches with his wide-screen, panoramic slide programs of Yosemite Valley and other places of natural beauty. Contact Don for Presentations on the Wonder of Creation.
What Faith Communities Can Do
Faith communities can offer creative, celebratory events that nourish the spirit, demonstrate alternatives to the consumer culture, and bring hope and joy. Such experiences are spiritually renewing and enable us to stay in the struggle for the long haul. Worship services and rituals can be held outside, or can incorporate story, symbol, and art to cultivate reverence for the creation.
Congregational groups can provide support for lifestyle change and action. Study or scripture, prayer and meditation groups, book studies, workshops, and educational forums can raise peoples’ consciousness about God in creation and our responsibility to the natural world. Faith communities can institute programs that enable them to witness and model the emerging paradigm of Earth Community by eliminating toxic chemicals, becoming more energy efficient, creating a community garden, or landscaping with native plants. In these ways, they demonstrate concern for the creation and model creation care.
Churches and other spiritual communities can work with Interfaith and secular organizations to create resilient, low-carbon communities and to advocate for policies of justice, peace, and environmental healing.